CL Project 6: Organizing and Delegating

Project six in the Competent Leadership Manual is: Organizing and Delegating.

The purpose of this project is to practice general organization skills and the ability to delegate tasks, and not try to do everything one’s self.

What’s notable about this project is that it is the first project that cannot be completed entirely by performing meeting roles in the club.

The project entails completing one of the following tasks:

  • Help Organize a Club Special Event
  • Help Produce the Club Newsletter
  • Assist the Club Webmaster

For this project, I helped to organize our club’s combination International Speech and Table Topics contests.

I served as the Chief Judge for both contests.  This entailed: appointing and conducting a training session for the contest judges, appointing timers and ballot counters, and supervising the work of all three groups.

This was an extraordinary learning experience and was great practice.  I feel that I really grew as a leader after completing this project.


A Question for Toastmasters

I have a question for all the Toastmasters in my audience.

What would you consider to be the greatest challenge facing your club today, and what steps are you taking to meet it?

I belong to a corporate club which meets at lunchtime.  The challenge we’ve been facing is low attendance.  We’ve got about forty members but tend to only get about eight to ten people attending each meeting.  This has become very frustrating.

In our Executive Committee meetings, we’ve been discussing possible causes.  One is that people get busy and need to work through lunch.  Another is that, since the company pays for membership, our members don’t feel as invested in the club as they would if they were paying for it themselves.

We’ve been trying a number of strategies to increase attendance:

  • We’ve increased our communication with the club, to keep the club forward in their minds.
  • We’ve sent out the Toastmaster’s Promise to remind the member’s that when they joined they pledged to attend meetings regularly.
  • I’ve begun sending out up-beat recap e-mails after every meeting to the entire membership to remind them how much fun the meetings are, with the hope of enticing them back.

Has anyone had a similar challenge?  If so, how were you able to overcome it?

Any help from more experienced Toastmasters would be very much appreciated, especially if you are a member of a corporate club.


NON-RELATED EDIT:  This is my 50th post!!!  Yay, me!

Table Topics Winner: Topic 1

The winner of the Table Topics contest from last week is…No one.

There were no comments on last week’s post so, sadly, there can be no winner.

Don’t fret, however, you have another chance for fame and honor!  You can take a shot at this week’s topic.

Give it a shot.  And if you don’t like this week’s topic, keep watching this space, there will be a new topic and a new chance to win each week.

If you’ve got an idea for a Table Topics question, leave it in comments and I will give you all due credit and thanks.

Table Topics Thursday: Topic 2

This week’s Table Topics Thursday question is: What historical time period would you most like to visit?

Being a D&D/role-playing game geek, my first thought was to pick some time in the Middle Ages.  However, stepping out of the high-fantasy mindset of the games, I think back to all I’ve read about what day-to-day life was really like in those times.  Suddenly, that time seems a lot less appealing and a lot more smelly and dirty.  Of course, I wouldn’t know for sure until I actually visited, but I’m not sure I’d want to risk it.

My second thought was maybe going back to Ancient Rome.  Thinking that this time period might be a bit more sanitary, comparatively speaking.  It might be interesting to see with my own eyes how people lived at the time and hear native speakers of Latin.

But then, if I’m going to go back that far, I thought why not go back even further to Ancient Mesopotamia, to the first city-states and the beginnings of written language and civilization.  I could visit the schools and watch them use their styli to scratch cuneiform into clay tablets.

I suppose it would depend on how long the visit would be, but there are so many opportunities to gain first-hand experience, seeing things that have only been guessed at and written in history books.

My choice would be, Ancient Mesopotamia.  I’d like to witness the beginnings of writing and see the discovery and development of so many of the things we take for granted as having always been around.

So, now it’s your turn:What historical time period would you most like to visit?

My favorite answer, as is now the custom, will be posted next Thursday for all to see and appreciate.  Let’s hear what you think.

Word of the Week Wednesday: Trope

Today’s Word of the Week is: trope.

One of the primary uses of the word is as a literary device of using words in ways other than their usual, literal meaning.  An example would be a metaphor.  This use comes from the concept of turning in the original Greek trópos, meaning turn.

While this is all well and good, and even somewhat interesting, the word has gotten more widespread recognition (at least on the internet) is its expanded meaning of: any device or convention used in fiction.

This meaning is used by one of my favorite time-wasting sites: TV Tropes (CAUTION: Enter this site at  your own risk and only if you’ve got hours to spend).

It’s to the point now that, when I think of tropes, I don’t think of metaphors or figures of speech, I think of stock characters and the berserk button.

Enjoy the site, and the tropes.  Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.

CC Speech 8: Get Comfortable with Visual Aids

The eighth project in the Competent Communicator Manual is: Get Comfortable with Visual Aids.

The goal of this projects is to become proficient is the use of visual aids to enhance the impact of your speech.

Suggestions for visual aids include: props, flip charts and PowerPoint presentations.

The challenge is to design the visual aids in such a way that they add an extra dimension to the verbal presentation and not distract from it.

My speech was presented on December 22nd and was entitled: A Christmas Tale.  The speech was about the phenomenon of Department Store and Mall Santas.

I began the speech quoting from “Santa Claus is Coming to Town“: You better watch out.  You better not cry. You better not pout.  I’m telling you why.  Santa Clause is coming to town.

Throughout the speech, my PowerPoint slides had pictures and summary text to support my points, all with a red and green Christmas motif.

I discussed the ubiquity of the department store Santa and the history of the phenomenon.  Then I detailed my history with the subject.  I mentioned my visit to Santa as a child and my turn working as a Mall Santa.

I then talked, from my experience, about how magical the visit to Santa can be for a small child but mentioned the potential for horror and trauma for the child if they’re too young or unprepared for the experience, warning parents that they “better watch out”.

Table Topics Thursday: Topic 1

I’m starting (yet another) series of posts: Table Topics Thursday.

Each Thursday, I will present a Table Topics question.  I will give my answer and invite you all to answer yourselves in the comments.

Each week, I will repost my favorite answer from the previous Thursday.

Today’s question is: If you had to spend one year living alone in a remote cabin, what would you spend your time doing?

My answer would very much depend on whether or not I had electricity or internet connectivity.  If I did, I would probably spend a lot of the time blogging and talking about Toastmasters (since I would be a year without meetings).

If I had no electricity or internet (but was otherwise supplied with the basic necessities), I would read, a lot, and probably spend a good amount of time exercising, which would be good since I don’t do that now.  I would also likely do quite a bit of crafting, maybe finally learn how to knit a sweater.

If I didn’t have the necessities, I probably wouldn’t last long; so, let’s not think about that.

So, what about you?  What would you do?

Remember, the best answer (by my very subjective judgment) will win everlasting fame and be featured in next week’s Table Topics Thursday post.  Let’s hear what you’ve got.

Word of the Week Wednesday: hoi polloi

Today I’m starting a new feature on this blog: Word of the Week Wednesday.

Each Wednesday, I will present a word or phrase that has special significance or meaning for me, or which I just think is cool.

This week’s word is: hoi polloi

Hoi polloi means “the masses” in a fairly derogatory way, as in “the great unwashed”.

This phrase sticks with me because I have a friend who I correct about once a year when she uses it to mean “the elite” or snobbish people.  One of the things I love most about my friend is that she doesn’t take offense at being corrected and, in fact, is grateful for it.

Whether she appreciates it being posted in public remains to be seen.  Hopefully she does.  Love ya, boo.

I believe the confusion probably comes from the phrase sounding like hoity toity, which actually does mean “pretentious” or “haughty”.

Hopefully, I don’t come across as hoity toity for insisting on the correct usage of hoi polloi.


CL Project 5: Planning and Implementation

Project Five in the Competent Leadership Manual is: Planning and Implementation.

In this project, the goal is to develop and practice the skills needed to effectively put together a plan and bring it to fruition.

This is achieved by performing three of the following roles in three separate Toastmasters meetings: Speaker, General Evaluator, Toastmaster, Table Topics Master.

For Speaker, I presented my Ice Breaker speech, planning what I wanted to say and how.

For General Evaluator, I planned out the roles of the evaluation team (the Timer, Grammarian and individual speech evaluators).

For Table Topics Master, I planned out the topic I would present.  The topic was: Archeologists from the year 2525.  I brought in a bag filled with everyday objects and asked each volunteer to pick out an object at random and present their opinions about what purpose the object served.

Through these roles, I was able to practice thinking ahead and planning how to approach the execution of each.

If you had a time machine that only let you spend one hour in a different time, what date would you go to?

Today’s suggested topic from WordPress‘ Post-a-Week is: If you had a time machine that only let you spend one hour in a different time, what date would you go to?

Despite the fact that the question ends in a preposition, it struck me as particularly apropos.

I was sick this week, which is a rarity for me.  As a result, I wasn’t able to make it to my Toastmasters meeting.  This is the first meeting I’ve missed since becoming President, not counting the one that was canceled when I was stuck in New York.

So, my answer, as trivial as it might be, considering the possibilities inherent in the question, is that I would spend the hour in this week’s Toastmasters meeting.  It seems perfect since the meeting is an hour long.

So, as usual when I answer one of the Post-a-Week questions, I am going to ask you, my readers, to give me your answers to it in the comments.  I’d love to hear your answers.


As a special benefit for a German-born reader of mine who has expressed some difficulty with the English, I am sharing a link to the Google translation of this site into German.  On Language (in deutscher Sprache) Not being a German speaker, I’ll have to let my reader report on its accuracy.

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